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The Journal Gazette

September 21, 2016 1:56 PM

Area lawmakers in 'test run' of constitutional convention

The Journal Gazette

State Sens. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, and Travis Holdman, R-Markle -- along with Auburn GOP Rep. Ben Smaltz -- are in Williamsburg, Virginia, this week to participate in a test run of a U.S. Constitutional Convention under Article V of the U.S. Constitution.

The goal is to ensure that such a convention can be organized and conducted by the 50 States with no danger of a "runaway convention" that could endanger our civil liberties under the Bill of Rights, a news release said.

There are two ways to amend the U.S. Constitution. The first is for Congress to pass an amendment that is later ratified by three-fourths of the states. This is how all 27 amendments to the Constitution have passed. But Article V of the Constitution sets up another way -- a constitutional convention.

Under this process, two-thirds -- or 34 -- of the state legislatures have to file a petition or application for a convention. But it has never happened in U.S. history. Any amendments proposed by a "con con" would still have to be ratified by three-fourths -- or 38 -- of the states.

Opponents worry that any such meeting would quickly get out of hand, focusing on any manner of topics rather than a select few such as balanced budgets.

The Convention of States Project announced commissioners, as delegates, attending the first-ever Article V simulated Convention of States.

Using draft convention rules crafted by a leading Article V scholar, Robert Natelson, and Constitutional expert Michael Farris, the state delegations hope to demonstrate to the country that the Article V amendment process designed by the founders for the states is ready to be deployed as the ultimate “check” on the federal government.